Sunday, December 9, 2007

Sufjan Goddamn Stevens

The rest of the household left on their usual Sunday grocery mission which left me to my usual Sunday listen-to-the-stereo-loud house cleaning mission. I should use this time wisely and listen to the more obnoxious end of my listening spectrum, here in this rare moment of PA authority, but it's Sunday morning, and you can't really blast abrasive minimalists or noxious Nordic Satan metal on Sunady morning. I eve tried to split the difference and crank up some Sabbath (an impulse I suspect every dude harbors when the ladies are away) but it just wasn't working, so I scrolled around until I landed on Sufjan Stevens, the anti-Ozzy.

I love the doe-eyed Eagle Scout of a bastard son of America that Sufjan Stevens is, but I overloaded myself on him when The Avalanche came out last year, and haven't listened to him since. And then "Romulus" came on from the Michigan album, and in the middle of swiffering the dining room I heard ...and we touched her hair, and we touched her hair and the tears started rolling like they do every time.

It's not because I identify with this direct content of this song or anything horribly corny like that ( I do identify with it, and it is corny, and I am corny, but that's not what's going on here) , it's that he hits on the ultimate vulnerability of everything in life. You can suffer just about anything as it's going on, even be oblivious to it, but when it passes is when the real shit hits the psychic fan. Imagine if your whole life, your back yard butted up against a fifty foot wall, and it stretched as far as you knew. As a kid, that wall is a given - you can't climb it, there is nothing on the other side. Then at some point, you follow that wall in one direction, all the way to the end. You now walk around the edge of it, can transcend the wall, can stand with it at your back and it is terrible. Not in a sour grapes "how come no one ever told me" way, not in a fear of the unknown way, but in a terrifying existential way. Your given is gone.

I think this is what death does to the living. It gives you a way to walk around that person, and the beyond looks just like the terrain on your previous side of the wall. But it is different, unavoidably different in a way that cannot be rectified and that is terrifying. And we all know it. It's basic instinct, it is why we as creatures with legs and feet and velocity and trajectory flee from death, even the slightest twinge of it and it still catches up. And like those poor goddamn Stevens kids who are having to face the realities, all we can do is placate our wounded baby bird souls.

when she had her last child,
once when she had some boyfriends, some wild.
she moved away, quite far.
our grandpa bought us a new vcr.
we watched it all night, we grew up in spite of it.
we watched it all night, we grew up in spite of it.

This song makes me want to throw a motherfucking VCR off a bridge like I was in a River Phoenix movie. Every time I hear this song, it chokes me up and I'm compelled to write about it, and maybe I'll one day walk to the end of the Romulus city limits and see the bleak Michigan sky, cold and lonely and leave my footprints in the snow trailing back to this song, but for now it sits there like those VCR tapes, waiting to be watched again.


  1. I don't get him. and I don't say that to fight city hall, I just don't get him. and you know I'm the kind of girl who doesn't mind prostrating herself with soundless grief in front of her subwoofer, but him? no. I think it's because he's too fey for me, too ... concocted. like those emo boys who were emo before we called it that who cooked up the sierra club and were heavily involved in women's studies classes to a. be really earnest and prove themselves but also b. get some. I think that's it. I don't know. he makes me all suspicious. which says more about me than ANYTHING ELSE, really. xoxxx!

  2. I don't always get Sufjan either. I like his lyrics a lot, though, and even though he doesn't always move me, your blog about being moved by him moved me - AlexGoddamnVMotherfuckinCook.

    So you linked to your old blog where you asked if anybody was reading and what made them cry. Apparently I wasn't reading that day, so umm... yeah sorry about that.

    I don't think I'm cool enough to list the stuff that makes me cry. You'll just sit around with all your music critic friends and laugh your asses off at me weeping to "Patches" - the BBKing and George Jones version that modulates about 7 times. You'll howl with laughter as you play it again and again, and perhaps say to your cool music friends, "yeah this part here... the part where BBKing repeats "patches... patches... patches... patches..." is the part that gets her. How pathetic!" You will exhale smoke and punctuate my mediocrity by ashing your cigarette... because you smoke when you're being awful and mean.

    Well laugh all you want, AlexGoddamnVMotherfuckinCook. But what's that in the corner of your eye? Yes I believe it's a solitary furtive tear.

  3. Have you checked out Sufjan's Christmas song collection? I was introduced to it last year and it really helped make my holiday. I'm giving it to at least 2 people for Christmas this year.